"I felt I was lynched many times in mind and spirit. I grew up in a world of white power . . .”
These words rock us with their hard truth. They were written by Rosa Parks sometime after her arrest in 1955 for defying a Montgomery, Alabama, bus driver’s order to give up her seat to a white passenger. They can be found among her autobiographical writings in the Rosa Parks Papers. Today, February 4th, Parks' birthday, we're launching these and other materials from her collection https://crowd.loc.gov/campaigns/rosa-parks-in-her-own-words/?loclr=eacwdas "Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words". The pages include letters to and from friends and family, records about her activism and lifelong fight for equal rights, programs from events that featured or honored her, and a small number of miscellaneous items, including her "Featherlite Pancake Recipe" with a secret ingredient.
We hope transcribing Rosa Parks’s writings, notes, and statements will bring you insight into her upbringing and family, her arrest and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the pernicious impact of racism and Jim Crow segregation. Parks was a powerful writer whose strong words and keen insights hit home. Many of these writings and notes are in draft form. She wrote on scraps of paper, often using the backs of incoming letters, event and sermon programs, and envelopes. The purpose of these writings isn’t always clear. Many were notes for speeches. Some may have be been intended for memoirs long before she wrote Rosa Parks: My Story (1992). Parks may have used writing as a way to process her arrest, the boycott, and their aftermath. Most of her writings are undated, although dates can be inferred from the dated letters and programs on which she wrote and from stationery letterhead. Many are featured in the Library's current exhibition (also titled Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words), which inspired this campaign.
Your transcriptions may lead to new discoveries about when and why some of these notes and drafts were written. One of the great archival myths is that archivists have time to read every word, untie every knot, and solve every mystery in a collection. They don’t, and unresolved mysteries abound. These documents have only been available for a large public audience for a few years, and to date they have not been transcribed and made word-searchable online, which is what you're doing when you take part in any By the People Campaign. What will you discover?